Chief Financial Officer of eThekwini Municipality Dr Sandile Mnguni has been awarded a Doctor of Administration degree with a thesis titled: An Analysis of Best Practices for Achieving and Sustaining Clean Audit Outcomes in Selected SA Metropolitan Municipalities.
Mnguni was supervised by public governance expert Professor Mogie Subban, who is a member of the public sector committee of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).
Mnguni’s study was completed against the background of the release of the Auditor-General’s 2020/2021 municipal audit outcomes report which revealed that only 41 municipalities out of 257 in South Africa had achieved clean audits.
The study found that having key policies in place is insufficient in itself because what is critical and non-negotiable are vigorous implementation and oversight measures through effective governance structures.
Mnguni advocates the promotion of good governance and strict enforcement of consequence management processes where breaches are noted are key in instilling a strong culture of accountability.
His responsibilities as the CFO include providing strategic guidance to the eThekwini Municipality in the area of financial planning and budgeting as well as strategic financial management through implementation of financial strategies that respond to service delivery plans while promoting a culture of good governance. His doctoral research will thus significantly contribute to his work as the best practices identified would enhance how he and his team handle day-to-day activities.
Mnguni, a qualified Chartered Accountant, decided to pursue a PhD in Public Administration to enhance his research skills and understanding of public sector dynamics while contributing with possible solutions to meeting challenges facing local government in particular and the developmental state in general. ‘I had a lot of opportunities after qualifying as a CA, however, now is the time for me to give back through sharing my learned and lived professional experiences, including scientific and research knowledge gained specifically during my PhD journey,’ he said.
Despite difficulties brought on by COVID-19, ongoing unrest and the devastation of the recent floods, he is grateful he was able to forge ahead with his studies.
He says striking a healthy balance between work and study was a big challenge as the study required many intense hours, but he is grateful to his supervisor and employer for their support. ‘Professor Subban steadfastly guided me throughout which made the study journey all the more worthwhile. In addition, my employer was also very supportive in terms of study leave during specific on-demand timelines.
‘I could not have asked for a more dedicated and learned yet humble supervisor – the University is fortunate to have such loyal staff of her calibre,’ he added.
Subban expressed her immense joy at the Graduation as she is extremely proud of Mnguni for having taken the academic plunge despite his onerous work as a senior official. ‘His work makes a worthy contribution to address many of the pathologies faced in local financial governance relating to audit outcomes. He has already published two articles in the Department of Higher Education and Training accredited journals, and we are engaged in further research into this very significant area of local government in the country,’ said Subban.
Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant through UKZN, Mnguni felt it was right to end his academic studies at his alma mater. ‘I’m pleased and proud I chose UKZN to achieve my doctoral qualification as the University really does inspire greatness! I also fully support the University’s REACHT (Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Client Orientation, Honesty and Trust) principles.’
Conscious of governance and service delivery challenges facing the public sector, Mnguni is ready to contribute to addressing these through evidence-based research and analytical approaches as well as contributing to educational or capacity building programmes for eThekwini.
Mnguni says his family is overjoyed about his academic success and his children have been inspired to follow in his footsteps.
An avid sportsman, he looks forward to getting back to playing tennis and indoor soccer for relaxation after a hard day at work.
Words: Hazel Langa
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan